The earliest churches were often small and very simple in design. This 6th-century building in Ireland is an oratory, a place where someone can pray in private rather than a church for a large congregation. It has sloping stone walls, a single door, and no windows.
The WORD CHURCH means a community of Christian believers, but it is also used to refer to a building in which Christians worship. Churches vary widely, but most have a large main space -often called the nave - for the congregation. Many churches also have a chancel or sanctuary, which houses the altar (p. 52); side chapels, used for private prayer; a vestry, where the priest prepares for services; and a space in which baptisms take place.
Ornate holy water stoup
18th-century church, San Ignacio, Mexico
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